Pixel Scroll 4/24/17 Let Us Sit Upon The Ground And Scroll Sad Pixels

(1) UNORTHODOX APPROACH. Beginning July 18, a weekly podcast will be hosted by Sixth & I in Washington DC — “Harry Potter and The Sacred Text”.

What if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts? What would we learn? How might they change us? Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a podcast the reads Harry Potter, the best-selling series of all time, as if it was a sacred text.

Just as Christians read the Bible, Jews the Torah, and Muslims read the Quran, Harvard chaplains Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile embark on a 199 ­episode journey (one chapter per week) to glean what wisdom and meaning J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels have in store.

The chaplains read the beloved series through the lens of instructive and inspirational text and extract lessons that can be applied to our own lives.

At the end of 199 weeks will something more emerge from these readings?

(2) JUSTICE IS BLIND. At Sharps & Flatirons, Peter Alexander says blind orchestral auditions have leveled the playing field — “Women in Classical Music: Some Good News, Some Bad News” .

First the good news: professional orchestras are filled with women today, a vast contrast to 40 or 50 years ago when orchestras were almost entirely male. This is now a viable career for the most talented women instrumentalists.

The bad news is that the picture is not nearly as rosy for women composers, who are not well represented on orchestral programs. And women conductors are no better off than composers.

The growing numbers of women in professional orchestras at every level can be traced to a single innovation that began around 1970: “blind auditions,” where competing candidates for open orchestral jobs play behind a screen. The selection committee does not know if it is hearing a man or a woman. The rapid change in the makeup of orchestras since 1970—casually visible and backed up by the numbers—is compelling evidence of the opposition women orchestral players faced before that innovation.

… In an article titled “Orchestrating Impartiality,” published in 2000 in The American Economic Review, researchers Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse concluded that “the screen increases—by 50 percent—the probability that a woman will be advanced from certain preliminary rounds and increases by severalfold the likelihood that a woman will be selected in the final round.” Their conclusion is backed up by 25 pages of charts, graphs and statistical studies.

(3) CON OR BUST AUCTION. The Con or Bust annual fundraising auction has begun and runs until May 7 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Con or Bust, Inc., is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions.

The available items include a signed galley of Ann Leckie’s next novel Provenance (to be published in October.) When I last looked, bidding was already up to $120.

Here are a few examples of the wide variety of auction items –

The whole list of auction tags is here.

(4) EMOJI CODE. There are four summaries, and I didn’t understand even one. Your turn! “Can you guess the Doctor Who episodes told in emojis?”

Test your Doctor Who knowledge by deciphering these emoji plots and guessing the episode!

If you’re stuck, answers are at the bottom of the page…

(5) LOOK, UP IN THE SKY. Talk about timing! Carl Slaughter referenced Larry Page in the other day’s flying car roundup, and today the news is “Larry Page’s flying car will be available to buy before the end of the year”

The Kitty Hawk Flyer is an electric aircraft that, in its current version, looks a bit like a flying Jet Ski. Cimeron Morrissey, who test flew the aircraft, wrote in a review that the final version would look quite different from the prototype, which doesn’t look all that practical.

A New York Times profile of the Flyer describes it as “something Luke Skywalker would have built out of spare parts.” The vehicle weighs about 100 kilograms and, according to Morrissey, can travel up to 25 mph. She likened the Flyer to “a toy helicopter.”

(6) PETER S. BEAGLE. Initially Barry Deutsch was signal-boosting an appeal for funds — “Peter S Beagle, author of ‘The Last Unicorn,’ is in dire need! Here are three ways you can help.” However, Beagle’s fans immediately came through on the short-term goal, which still leaves two longer-term needs:

LONG-TERM:

Go to the Support Peter Beagle website and use the button there to contribute to a fund to help pay for Peter Beagle’s legal costs. You can leave a message for Peter in the paypal field; I am told he will receive and read all messages sent this way.

BUY THE HUMBLE BUNDLE!

Peter Beagle has curated a Humble Bumble of unicorn fiction, called “Save the Unicorns.” You can pay as little as $1 to get a ton of novels to read, and support Peter Beagle at the same time! Important: In “choose where your money goes,” pick 100% Tachyon Press. Peter Beagle will get royalties and such from Tachyon for these Humble Bumble sales.

To be kept up-to-date on Peter Beagle news, follow @RealPeterBeagle on Twitter.

(7) UNGRADED HATE MAIL. Margaret Atwood answers Patt Morrison’s questions in the LA Times.

I can imagine your fan mail. I can’t imagine your hate mail.

I’ve gotten lots of hate mail over the years. I’ll probably get more once the television series comes out. But I’m not advocating for one thing or the other. I’m saying that what kind of laws you pass — those laws will have certain kinds of results. So you should think carefully about whether you want to have those results or not.

If you’re going to ban birth control, if you’re going to ban information about reproduction, if you’re going to defund all of those things, there will be consequences. Do you want those consequences or not? Are you willing to pay for them or not?

Listen to the “Patt Morrison Asks” podcast and read the full interview at here.

(8) WHO’S THAT SHOUTING? Two writers here for the LA Festival of Books indulge in shenanigans. (Hm, just discovered my spellchecker has a different opinion of how shenanigans is spelled than I have – dang, it did it again!)

(9) CITIZEN SCIENCE. And they call the wind aurora whatever-it-is… Steve? “Aurora photographers find new night sky lights and call them Steve”

Relatively little else is known about the big purple light as yet but it appears it is not an aurora as it does not stem from the interaction of solar particles with the Earth’s magnetic field.

There are reports that the group called it Steve in homage to a 2006 children’s film, Over the Hedge, where the characters give the name to a creature they have not seen before.

Roger Haagmans of the ESA said: “It is amazing how a beautiful natural phenomenon, seen by observant citizens, can trigger scientists’ curiosity.

“It turns out that Steve is actually remarkably common, but we hadn’t noticed it before. “It’s thanks to ground-based observations, satellites, today’s explosion of access to data and an army of citizen scientists joining forces to document it.”

(10) A CERTAIN GLOW ABOUT THEM. If you don’t already know this story, you should: “Dark Lives Of ‘The Radium Girls’ Left A Bright Legacy For Workers, Science”,an interview with the book’s author Kate Moore.

In the early days of the 20th century, the United States Radium Corporation had factories in New Jersey and Illinois, where they employed mostly women to paint watch and clock faces with their luminous radium paint. The paint got everywhere — hair, hands, clothes, and mouths.

They were called the shining girls, because they quite literally glowed in the dark. And they were dying.

Kate Moore’s new book The Radium Girls is about the young women who were poisoned by the radium paint — and the five who sued United States Radium in a case that led to labor safety standards and workers’ rights advances.

(11) WHILE YOU WERE OUT: One big step for…. “Astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks new space record”.

Peggy Whitson has broken the record for most days in space by a US astronaut.

Dr Whitson already holds records for the most spacewalks carried out by a woman astronaut and is the first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS) twice.

Now she’s beaten the record previously set by Jeff Williams, who had a total of 534 days in space.

President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka have called Dr Whitson to congratulate her.

(12) AN EYEFUL. Forbes has a gallery of “The Top Cosplayers From Silicon Valley Comic Con”.

This weekend the second Silicon Valley Comic Con took place, featuring robotics, virtual reality and a wax statue of Steve Wozniak. But everyone knows that Comic Con is really about one thing, and that’s the jaw dropping cosplay. From menacing Jokers to an adorable Hatsune Miku costume, enjoy this roundup of some of the most eye-catching costumes at the show…

 

My cape means business 😬😎

A post shared by Melanie Rafferty 🌻 (@songbird3685) on

(13) DOC WEIR AWARD. British Eastercon members voted the 2017 Doc Weir Award to Serena Culfeather and John Wilson.

The Doc Weir Award was set up in 1963 in memory of fan Arthur Rose (Doc) Weir, who had died two years previously. Weir was a relative newcomer to fandom, he discovered it late in life – but in the short time of his involvement he was active in a number of fannish areas. In recognition of this, the Award is sometimes seen as the “Good Guy” Award; something for “The Unsung Heroes”.

(14) SCIENCE QUESTION. I thought you could only get hit by a meteorite? (Unless it’s being smacked by a wet echinoderm he’s worried about.)

(15) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 24, 1184 B.C. – Traditional date of the Fall of Troy, calculated by Eratosthenes.
  • April 24, 1990 – Hubble Space Telescope launched.

(16) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SCHLOCK MEISTER

  • Born April 24, 1914 – Filmmaker William Castle

(17) CARTOON OF THE DAY. “Cat City” by Victoria Vincent on Vimeo explains what happens when a cat runs away from home to become a hairdresser and drinks too much!

(18) WILL WORK FOR CLICKS. Camestros Felapton renders another much-needed public service: “See how your favourite Games of Thrones Characters are related”. Go there to see the family trees.

(19) NOVELLA INITIATIVE. The Book Smugglers published the first 2017 entry in their Novella Initiative last week, Dianna Gunn’s novella Keeper of the Dawn.

In Keeper of the Dawn, the first novella from Book Smugglers Publishing, author Dianna Gunn introduces readers to strong-willed Lai. All her life she has dreamed of following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother and becoming a priestess in service to her beloved goddesses. But even after lifelong preparation, she fails trials and her next instinct is to run away.

Off in the north kingdom of Alanum, as she works to recalibrate her future, Lai becomes the bodyguard of a wealthy merchant, who is impressed by her strength and bravery. One night she hears stories about a mountain city where they worship the same goddesses she does. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple and do whatever it takes to join their sacred order. Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn, rich with female empowerment, is a multi-layered LGBTQIA YA Fantasy story about fate, forgiving yourself, and the endurance of hope.

Gunn also wrote a post about her inspirations and influences.

In many ways Lai’s story also mirrors the story of my own career. I’ve dreamed about being an author since the age of eight, and as a child I stubbornly believed I would have my first novel published before my eighteenth birthday.

Well, my eighteenth birthday came and went some years ago, and only now is my first book coming out. But I have already been a working writer for six years, writing marketing materials for many different companies and non-profits. More importantly, my dream still came true—just a few years later than planned.

(20) CLARKE AWARD CONTENDERS. A couple of Shadow Clarke jurors take their turn discussing what have proven to be group favorites, while another visits less familiar ground.

Part of the way it reworks things is that it’s not about the Up and Out, but the ups and downs. The rigors of life are always present: people make decisions, those decisions impact life, and they rarely have anything to do with that giant monstrosity towering from the south that hurls people into outer space. The Central Station of Central Station is a mere landmark, an economic hub and cultural icon, but as Maureen K. Speller points out in her review, “…even in science fiction, that so-called literature of the future, nothing lasts forever. The symbolic tropes – space ships, robots, AIs – will all eventually be absorbed and become part of the scenery.” The Central Station of the future is the airport of today: not that big of a deal.

This is a difficult, intractable, Gordian knot of a novel, the kind you recommend to like-minded friends more out of curiosity to see what they’ll make of it than from any reasonable belief that they’ll enjoy the book. Whether this novel – formally and stylistically perfect though it is, a rare gem of a debut that hints at that rare beast, a writer who knows precisely where he’s going and what he wants – can be enjoyed on anything other than a purely intellectual level is a debatable point; whether it can be enjoyed as science fiction still more so.

The Underground Railroad is about as significant a novel as American literary culture is capable of producing in the first quarter of the 21st century.

If you care enough about books to be reading this kind of essay then chances are that you have either purchased or taken an interest in this novel. Far from being organic and spontaneous, your decision to purchase Colson Whitehead’s latest novel is the result of almost every facet of American literary culture coming into alignment and choosing to imbue a single work with as much cultural significance as those institutions can conceivably muster. Already a winner of many prestigious literary awards and a beneficiary of both the Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, Colson Whitehead has now seen his sixth novel celebrated not only by Pulitzer and National Book Award judges but also by the – arguably more influential and economically important – face of Oprah’s Book Club.

(21) DOCTOR TINGLE AI. Applied Digital Studies Project uses a twitter bot to form new titles based on novels by Dr. Chuck Tingle. Not surprisingly, there is a good deal of butt and pounding in these titles. Still, some of them are funny.

(22) MYTHIC FIGURE. Today Chuck Tingle is busy burnishing his legend.

(23) READERCON. Tracy Townsend announced she will be at Readercon in Quincy, MA from July 13-16.

Guests of Honor:

Naomi Novik & Nnedi Okorafor

Memorial Guest of Honor:

Tanith Lee

Although Readercon is modeled on “science fiction conventions,” there is no art show, no costumes, no gaming, and almost no media. Instead, Readercon features a near-total focus on the written word….

(24) MOVIE RESTORATION. The Verge says those who have heard of it should be pleased — “Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi classic Stalker is getting an HD restoration”. And those like me, who haven’t, will be intrigued.

Cinephiles, rejoice! Criterion Collection will be adding a major science-fiction classic to its roster this summer: a restored version of Stalker, directed by Solaris filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky.

Based off the 1971 Russian science-fiction novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Stalker was originally released in 1979. The film follows a man known as “the Stalker” as he leads an expedition into a mysterious, forbidden area known as “The Zone.” In the book, the mysterious Zone is the location of an alien visitation decades before the story, littered with fantastic pieces of technology and dangers; in the film, its origins are more obscure. But in both cases, reality there is distorted, and somewhere inside is a room that will grant visitors’ innermost desires. The journey to get there is physically and philosophically arduous, and it tests the trio of men traveling there.

(25) SUBTITLES IN I KNOW NOT WHAT LANGUAGE. The Justice League Official International Trailer dropped today.

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

 

(26) A VISIT TO MARVEL. SlashFilm leads readers on a “Marvel Studios Offices Tour: A Behind-the-Scenes Look”. (Photos at the site.)

The Marvel Studios offices are located on the second floor of the Frank G. Wells Building on the Walt Disney Studios lot. When you exit the elevators, you are greeted by a wall-to-wall mural featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, and a big Marvel Studios logo.

Marvel Studios began in a tiny office in Santa Monica that they shared with a kite factory. After that, the company moved to an office above a Mercedes dealership in Beverly Hills. They were based out of Manhattan Beach Studios for a few years before Disney asked them to move onto the Burbank lot in 2014. But it wasn’t until a few months ago that Marvel fully decorated their offices….

(27) BOMBS AWAY. A new record for a domino toppling specialty was set in March.

A group of domino builders in Michigan created the world’s largest “circle bomb” using nearly 80,000 dominoes.

The Incredible Science Machine team broke the Guinness World Record for “Most dominoes toppled in a circle bomb/circle field” by creating a series of 76,017 dominoes that toppled from the center of a circle to its outer edge.

“The Incredible Science Machine Team is very passionate about domino art and sharing it with an audience to amaze and inspire them,” team leader Steve Price, 22, said.

A total of 18 builders from the United States, Canada, Germany and Austria spent 10 days constructing the domino formation at the Incredible Science Machine’s annual event in Westland, Mich.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mart.]

2015 Shirley Jackson Awards

The winners of the 2015 Shirley Jackson Awards were presented July 10 at Readercon 27 at a ceremony hosted by convention guests of honor Catherynne M. Valente and Tim Powers.

The awards recognize outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic, and are voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics. The 2015 jurors were Livia Llewellyn, Robert Shearman, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Bev Vincent, and Kaaron Warren.

NOVEL

  • Experimental Film, Gemma Files (ChiZine Publications)

NOVELLA

  • Wylding Hall, Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing-UK/Open Road Media-US)

NOVELETTE

  • “Even Clean Hands Can Do Damage,” Steve Duffy (Supernatural Tales #30, Autumn)

SHORT FICTION

  • “The Dying Season,” Lynda E. Rucker (Aickman’s Heirs)

SINGLE-AUTHOR COLLECTION

  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King (Scribner)

EDITED ANTHOLOGY

  • Aickman’s Heirs, edited by Simon Strantzas (Undertow Publications)

Pixel Scroll 7/9/16 Snort, Harlequin, Said the Ear, Nose, Throat Man

(1) HEARTS MADE OF TIN. David Brin says robots will be so charming they won’t have to conquer us physically, in “Endearing Visages”.

I’ve been pondering Artificial Intelligence or AI a lot, lately, with several papers and reviews pending. (Indeed, note who is one of the ‘top ten people followed by AI researchers.’) One aspect that’s far too-little discussed is how robots are being designed to mess with human emotions.

Long before artificial intelligences become truly self-aware or sapient, they will be cleverly programmed by researchers and corporations to seem that way. This – it turns out – is almost trivially easy to accomplish, as (especially in Japan) roboticists strive for every trace of appealing verisimilitude, hauling their creations across the temporary moat of that famed “uncanny valley,” into a realm where cute or pretty or sad-faced automatons skillfully tweak our emotions.

Human empathy is both one of our paramount gifts and among or biggest weaknesses. For at least a million years, we’ve developed skills at lie-detection (for example) in a forever-shifting arms race against those who got reproductive success by lying better!  (And yes, there was always a sexual component to this.)

But no liars ever had the training that these new, Hiers or Human-Interaction Empathic Robots will get, learning via feedback from hundreds, then thousands, then millions of human exchanges around the world, adjusting their simulated voices and facial expressions and specific wordings, till the only folks able to resist will be sociopaths. (And sociopaths have plenty of chinks in their armor, as well.)

(2) READERCON. A lot of good tweets coming out of Readercon this weekend. Here’s a small sampling.

(3) THE TWINKIE OFFENSE. Hostess has marketed two new Twinkie flavors to celebrate the release of the new Ghostbusters movie — Key Lime Slime and White Fudge Marshmallow.

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man wouldn’t be able to contain himself! Or maybe he would — isn’t that kind of like cannibalism? Either way, if you like marshmallows, you are going to like these Twinkies.

Key Lime Green Slime Twinkies

GBWhiteFudgeMarshmallowTwinkiesByHostessSc01 COMP(4) FEZ CLAIM TO FAME. Closed for renovation in 2012, the world’s oldest library in Morocco reopened this year.

A wealthy Tunisian merchant’s daughter, Fatima al-Fihri, founded al-Qarawiyyin University as a mosque in 859 CE. By the 10th century, Atlas Obscura reports, it grew into a full-fledged university with a library. Today, it’s considered to be the world’s oldest existing and continually operating institute of higher education, as well as the first degree-awarding educational institution. Eventually, the University of al-Qarawiyyin moved to another location in Fez, but the mosque and library remained at the original site.

(5) CROTCHETY DOESN’T MEAN WRONG. Steve Davidson has a point – “Pay for the Privilege” at Amazing Stories.

…sometimes a new way of doing things comes along and it is Just. Not. Right.

Take the internet as a perfect example.

Why are we all still individually paying for it?

It watches and records us without our consent.  Data miners have found all manner of ways to entice us into revealing even more behaviors and data through the internet of things.  Those useful, free apps and games aren’t really free, are they?

Aggregated data and its derivatives are both earning and saving business concerns billions of dollars annually.  And we’re just in the infancy of this technology.

(6) MONKEYING AROUND. Those with Facebook accounts might get a kick out of the Turner Classic Movies video of Dr. Zaius sharing stories about working with Charlton Heston on the set of Planet of the Apes.

Dr. Zaius

Dr. Zaius

(7) NOT AS ANIMATED AS THEY USED TO BE. How old are your favorite cartoon characters? Artist Andrew Tarusov has created a gallery of favorites who show their age.

(8) PHYSICIST WHO DID FANAC. Sidney Coleman remembered on the Not Even Wrong blog.

A couple months ago there was a session at an APS meeting with the topic Sidney Coleman Remembered. Slides are available for talks by Coleman’s student Erick Weinberg and colleague Howard Georgi. Georgi has recently posted a written version of the talk here. He also a few years ago wrote this biographical memoir about Coleman for the National Academy of Sciences.

David Derbes and collaborators [see comment section for details] are putting together a book version of Coleman’s famous lectures on quantum field theory, hope to be finished with this by the end of the summer.

Coleman was a long-time Boston fan and a founder of Advent:Publishers.

Sidney, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton. Photo taken and copyright by Andrew Porter.

Sidney, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton. Photo taken and copyright by Andrew Porter.

(9) FEYNMAN TALES. Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek writes in Quanta Magazine “How Feynman Diagrams Almost Saved Space”. The story begins in 1982 when Wilczek asked Feynman, “Why doesn’t empty space weigh anything?”

I asked Feynman the most disturbing question in physics, then as now: “There’s something else I’ve been thinking a lot about: Why doesn’t empty space weigh anything?”

Feynman, normally as quick and lively as they come, went silent. It was the only time I’ve ever seen him look wistful. Finally he said dreamily, “I once thought I had that one figured out. It was beautiful.” And then, excited, he began an explanation that crescendoed in a near shout: “The reason space doesn’t weigh anything, I thought, is because there’s nothing there!”

(10) BEAGLE COMING TO SDCC. Peter S. Beagle will be at Comic Con 2016, participating in a panel entitled “Creating Your Own Universe”, in addition to signing autographs and meeting fans at his table.

His first novel in well over a decade, Summerlong, will be released September 15 on Tachyon.

(11) SULU STILL BEING DEBATED. Adam-Troy Castro answered a reply to his post about Sulu being revealed as a gay character in Star Trek Beyond.

Concerned STAR TREK fan in a thread, on the revelation of Sulu’s sexuality:

“It is also pointless for the story to just make the character gay for no other reason than to be so. Is important to the plot? Does it advance the story somehow? This is ultimately the only way it would make sense.”

What you’re talking about is the principle of Chekhov’s Gun. Not Pavel Chekov, but Anton Chekhov, who held that if you put a gun on the mantelpiece in one scene, then at some point somebody was going to have to take it down and fire it.

What perplexes is just how any STAR TREK character’s homosexuality could possibly “be important to the plot” or “advance the story somehow.”….

In the original series, one crew member being Asian, another being Scottish, another being a southern gentleman, another being Russian, another being African, was all texture. It was there, and then for the most part unremarked-upon, because Gene Roddenberry wanted to establish, within the boundaries of his time, that in the far future he wished to present, this was nothing unusual. (And even then, we had manifestations of his time’s near-sightedness, as when Janice Lester bitterly complains that the profession of starship captains is closed to women.)

Similarly, that brief shot of Sulu’s husband does not “advance the plot;” chances are that there will be no action climax where the ship can only be saved by the two of them having sex atop the warp nacelles. It does, however, provide more texture to the hypothetical universe around them, by establishing for the first time ever that Sulu has a personal life, that he must leave his family behind every time he goes on some mission for Kirk’s glory, that in the utopian world where he lives a marriage like his is just something that exists and that it is not remarked-upon as unusual, by anyone.

Texture….

(12) ALL’S QUIET ON THE DRAGON FRONT. Nominations for the inaugural Dragon Awards close on July 25, just a little over two weeks from now. If anybody’s excited about that, they’re mostly keeping it a secret from the internet.

Declan Finn wrote a long post about what to vote for so that he could ask people to nominate his book Honor at Stake (which is absolutely fine under the rules). Then he used the Sad Puppies list as a memory prompt for the rest of his suggestions.

Alfred Gennesson’s picks for the new Dragon Awards led off with John C. Wright, Larry Correia, and Rod Walker (published by Castalia House). Then he signed off with these thoughts —

I like the Dragon Awards already. Quality indicators for the year are going to be more honest than Hugo/Nebula, just in nomination process. And those ignore games. When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Two other writers are looking for support on Twitter —

However, since June 1, the only tweets about the Dragon Awards other than from people already mentioned were generic calls to vote from Larry Correia and Daddy Warpig.

(13) FELAPTON SPEAKS. Camestros Felapton reviews all five Hugo-nominated Novellas.

I think this is one of the most interesting categories this year. Each one of the nominees is a plausible candidate as a finalist but there isn’t a real stand-out winner. Three out of the five are by well-established writers and two are by newer writers. The least good (IMHO) has some excellent writing and made me want to read more by the same author. The best felt lacking in places and didn’t hit knock-your-socks-off great.

(14) STATE OF MIND. The Publishers Weekly story poses the question “Was Philip K. Dick a Madman or a Mystic?”, but do we really have to ask?

In The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick, Kyle Arnold delves into the complicated psyche of one of the 20th century’s most important writers. At the center of the subject is the profound vision Dick experienced in 1974, which he referred to as “2-3-74.” Arnold, a psychologist at Coney Island Hospital and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, explains the experience and its significance.

In February of 1974, Philip K. Dick was home recovering from dental surgery when, he said, he was suddenly touched by the divine. The doorbell rang, and when Dick opened the door he was stunned to see what he described as a “girl with black, black hair and large eyes very lovely and intense” wearing a gold necklace with a Christian fish symbol. She was there to deliver a new batch of medications from the pharmacy. After the door shut, Dick was blinded by a flash of pink light and a series of visions ensued. First came images of abstract paintings, followed by philosophical ideas and then, sophisticated engineering blueprints. Dick believed the pink light was a spiritual force which had unlocked his consciousness, granting him access to esoteric knowledge.

(15) ASIMOV SINGS! Fanac.org has uploaded a third segment of  sound recording of the 1971 Hugo Banquet at Noreascon.

Banter and badinage from Robert Silverberg and Isaac Asimov, and the awarding of the Hugos. Asimov sings!

 

(16) RENT LONG AND PROSPER. Treknews featured this movie-related promotion.

In the commercial, entitled “Business Is Going Boldly,” Enterprise employees are shown beaming, speaking Klingon in the break room and renting the Starship Enterprise to customers.

Remember, the Romulans always get the damage waiver.

As we’ve previously reported, select Enterprise locations will have Star Trek related signage, plus Enterprise airport shuttle buses in New York City and Philadelphia will be wrapped with images of the U.S.S. Enterprise and the phrase: “Until We Can Beam You Up, We’ll Pick You Up”.

The dialect jokes are amusing, but should Enterprise Rent-A-Car really be renting starships to Klingons?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson. (OK Steve – now it’s up to you whether you record a hat trick.)]

2015 Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees

The shortlist for the 2015 Shirley Jackson Awards has been released. The awards recognize outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic, and are voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics.

The awards will be presented on Sunday, July 10, 2016, at Readercon 27 in Quincy, Massachusetts.

NOVEL

  • Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press)
  • Experimental Film, Gemma Files (ChiZine Publications)
  • The Glittering World, Robert Levy (Gallery)
  • Lord Byron’s Prophecy, Sean Eads (Lethe Press)
  • When We Were Animals, Joshua Gaylord (Mulholland Books)

NOVELLA

  • The Box Jumper, Lisa Mannetti (Smart Rhino)
  • In the Lovecraft Museum, Steve Tem (PS Publishing)
  • Unusual Concentrations, S.J. Spurrier (Simon Spurrier)
  • The Visible Filth, Nathan Ballingrud (This Is Horror)
  • Wylding Hall, Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing-UK/Open Road Media-US)

NOVELETTE

  • “The Briskwater Mare,” Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Deepwater Bride,” Tamsyn Muir (Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July-August 2015)
  • “Even Clean Hands Can Do Damage,” Steve Duffy (Supernatural Tales #30, Autumn)
  • “Fabulous Beasts,” Priya Sharma (Tor.com, July 2015)
  • “The Thyme Fiend,” Jeffrey Ford (Tor.com, March 2015)

SHORT FICTION

  • “A Beautiful Memory,” Shannon Peavey (Apex Magazine)
  • “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” Alyssa Wong (Nightmare)
  • “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” Nadia Bulkin (Aickman’s Heirs)
  • “The Dying Season,” Lynda E. Rucker (Aickman’s Heirs)
  • “Wilderness,” Letitia Trent (Exigencies)

SINGLE-AUTHOR COLLECTION

  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King (Scribner)
  • The End of the End of Everything, Dale Bailey (Arche Press)
  • Get in Trouble, Kelly Link (Random House)
  • Gutshot, Amelia Gray (FSG Originals)
  • The Nameless Dark – A Collection, T.E. Grau (Lethe Press)
  • You Have Never Been Here, Mary Rickert (Small Beer Press)

EDITED ANTHOLOGY

  • Aickman’s Heirs, edited by Simon Strantzas (Undertow Publications)
  • Black Wings IV, edited by S.T. Joshi (PS Publishing)
  • The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor)
  • Exigencies, edited by Richard Thomas (Dark House Press)
  • Seize the Night, edited by Christopher Golden (Gallery)

From Coast-to-Coast in the Blink of a Red-Eye.

Batgroup Ben, Alex, Q, Josh and Vivian at SDCC.

Batgroup Ben, Alex, Q, Josh and Vivian at SDCC.

By James Bacon: It was a warm sunny Sunday in Burlington, Massachusetts, and people were relaxed, sitting and chatting outside the Marriott Hotel where Readercon was being held. I walked into the relative calmness of Readercon, a quietness that belies the intensity of some conversations and earnestness with which people were going about the convention. It was a very different energy, yet not at all dissimilar from San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) in southern California, where I had attended the day before.

Of course, it was the last day of Readercon, and I had red-eyed to Boston from San Diego, the comparison of experience was inevitable, yet it was the commonalities between the two conventions that made me smile. I soon found a free book room and was pleased to pick up some ‘zines from the Richard III Society, dating back to the 1980s. I also picked up a New Worlds from the 1950s and a couple of other pulp digest mags based on promises of excitement on the covers. One of my fellow free book browsers found one a couple of Galaxy Magazines self identifying as “pertinent science fiction” and there was much laughter. The Readercon freebie room was so much calmer than the free table in the Marvel booth, which can only be likened to a Rugby match, or the huge queues for free items at SDCC.

Readercon Pertinant SF 90In the Dealers Room at Readercon, Michael Walsh and Bill Campbell proved as eloquent in greeting and conversation as they were as book sellers, and I was pleased to hear that Bill’s press had their new Samuel R. Delany inspired anthology Stories for Chip for sale and it was selling well.

Beer and a book on the bar at Readercon.

Beer and a book on the bar at Readercon.

Just like San Diego, I found any intention of getting into programme soon waylaid and was side tracked into lively chats with Liza Trombi and then Erin Underwood in the bar, which was nice. Chat seemed to be continuous as I wandered around the Dealers Room and common areas in the Marriott, which were spacious and easy to get around.

I got engaged in a conversation with a fan about current affairs in the SF community. This fan had lost family during the Second World War, in Europe, and as the conversation roamed, opinions and thoughts were exchanged. This was a fabulous conversation, not because there was a meeting of minds, but rather that there was disagreement. However, that disagreement was so polite, and also so recognisably not by many degrees, that we respected one another’s opinion. This is important since there is an adage that those who are of a similar but slightly differing opinions will argue the most, but today I think it is important to recognise allies for decency, rather than wining my exact viewpoint to the point.

I was pleased to see Dave Kyle at Readercon, one of those ever rarer members of First Fandom, and was glad to find him in good spirits. We have met now many times, and I enjoy chatting with him and relished the opportunity to introduce him to Bill as a member of the first Worldcon in 1939. His daughter, Kerry Kyle talked about how there was a schism even then, and it made me smile. Ah, fans! Dave heads off on his moby, skilfully negotiating his way around the Dealers Room at a decent speed.

At San Diego Comic-Con, I saw a lot of people in Moby’s, and the area for disabled people and short separate queues seemed like it was all very positive despite reading that it was not perfect. That indeed would be true, no convention is perfect, but while I can pause and wander around a group of people, I can imagine the choke points in SDCC were both frustrating and upsetting for the less mobile. In contrast, here at Readercon, I see there is a lot of care and attention for anyone who is disabled as I feel is only correct.

There is no doubt the Worldcon bid for 2017 has created interest. At Readercon, I saw Crystal Huff who seemed pleased with Helsinki’s work, and indeed there were no shortage of Helsinki T-shirts to be seen. Ben Yallow was chatting enthusiastically with Bill Campbell, who lives in Washington, about the DC bid. It is all go this year, and even in San Diego there were quite a few people interested for various reasons in the race between Montreal, Japan, DC and Helsinki. In San Diego, I had met Mike Wilmoth, a senior programme ops manager for SDCC, who also happens to be a deputy chair for Sasquan. He had been at Westercon the weekend before where there had been a fannish inquisition. Mike was not the only deputy chair I met in San Diego as Laura Domitz was helping in the art show. I was amazed at how many people from the Worldcon side of fandom were present at SDCC, as I kept bumping into fans as well as volunteers.

A question that came up at Westercon, which I had heard about before SDCC was along the lines of “what is one going to do to increase diversity at conventions?” and for some reason this question entered my consciousness as one to consider hard, especially given my coast-to-coast convention experiences over the weekend. Asking those who I want to welcome was an initial thought and I was conscious to consider this question broadly, mindful that thoughts must be turned into successful actions.

I can only tell you what I observe, I cannot and do not have facts or figures, or even evidence of an empirical nature, just what I saw as I wandered about both conventions. Yet it is interesting that San Diego Comic-Con felt very diverse. Of course, Readercon works hard, I feel, to be welcoming in their own way, which is borne out in their programme participant statement: “Readercon is committed to diversity in its program; we believe a wide range of voices makes for better conversation. We strongly encourage members of minority and underprivileged groups to apply.” This is very good, and I feel that leadership can be shown by conventions in working at having diverse panels and programme, which in turn attracts diverse members.

I noted after the con, that Readercon had great levels of diversity on panels, which compared to SDCC was a trump.

During a trip to Baltimore Comic Con a couple of years ago, I felt that convention was more diverse in attendance than any other con I have attended. By observation it was incredible, and I pondered that now, and wondered if it was about the cost, location, or programme participants in Baltimore.

If cost and affordability had an impact, was this why San Diego Comic-Con had a lot of diversity? A day ticket for SDCC was $50 for an adult and children 12 or under get in free with a paying adult. That is if you were lucky enough to get a ticket, of course.  There is also a Junior price of $25 for 13 to 17-year-olds.  Baltimore Comic Con is $30 for a Saturday, and kids under ten go in free with an adult while a day ticket on Saturday for Readercon was $55 and indeed cheaper than both on Sunday at only $25 and children under 15 attend free with an adult too.

I do not know if that is often talked about in the States, but at most of the UK and Irish conventions I have worked on, there have also been discounted rates for those who are on employment benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, or on the dole. Terms change but basically out of work admission has ranged from 25-50% off the ticket price. Students likewise have gotten discounts, or sometimes it is young people up to 26 years of age and so on.  It may be just another difference that in the States student and child prices are lower (or free) while discounts for unemployed fans are just not contemplated as being enabling, but I always approve of them. Indeed, I have had no issue about the disparity in what I pay if it enables someone in an unfortunate situation to come along.

So, I wondered about that. I noted that Readercon had signed up for Con or Bust, so there were three free memberships available to those in need, but I was not sure what SDCC or Baltimore had done in this regard. So, in many ways, that was even more progressive than my leftist European ways of discounts. Although many cons now on both sides of the Atlantic are also singing up, which is fabulous.

I also wondered if location may have been a factor. SDCC is down town in the Gas Lamp District with trolley access. Likewise, the convention is down-town for Baltimore Comic Con, and although Readercon was in Burlington, which is about 35 minutes by Bus (352) from Downtown Boston, a 14 mile drive, and there is also a route using the ‘T’ redline and 350 bus. So, despite not being downtown, it is accessible by decent public transport, which I think is pretty good going. I would be curious about the turnout at other Boston area cons that take place in the downtown area.

On a related note, my trip was not without non-con excitement and I was stopped by a police officer. Getting into the States is not something that is a given for me. Indeed, I have to apply for a visa and then I can get refused at entry and getting arrested would be detrimental for any future travel. The officer was polite. He came to my window, and spoke clearly and explained why I had been stopped. He wanted my licence, and I asked if I could get out to retrieve it from my wallet in the back of the car. He was unsure with this question I thought, so when I repeated it, he seemed surprised that his permission was being sought. He did step back to allow me out, and so we conversed at the rear of the car, and I was warned and sent on my way. Indeed, the manners, courtesy, and also professionalism was incredible. It was like how the US used to be portrayed in that old TV show CHiPs; was this guy Ponch or John?

The British left national press has been consistently reporting negative incidents in the States, so there was some caution and trepidation in my interaction. Articles here seem very in depth and there are no shortage of them, this one “By the numbers: US police kill more in days than other countries do in years; The Guardian has built the most comprehensive database of US police killing ever published” is another example. My police experience was totally at odds with this perception, although I do wonder if Americans realise how other countries look in and see their country and I wondered if that effected tourism or travellers from outside and within.

The world loves America, it really does. From comic heroes to Coke, burgers, Elvis, and Hollywood, everyone loves something about America, and so many people want to make a future there, be they Irish, Eritrean, Iranian or Indonesian. I was pleased that the negative PR I have heard was not my destiny on that day but wondered if that has an impact on what it is to be welcoming.

I felt very welcomed by this cop. Of course, maybe there was a more obvious and distasteful reason for the ease of my interaction. I am aware of that, but would not want to castigate another person or assume that they would by course, treat me different in ways that I think we all hate. We all hate racism, bigotry and discrimination, don’t we? I wondered, is it easy to say I hate racism and then well, get on with my nice life as I drove away, too easy.

In all, I enjoyed myself immensely meeting up with old friends, picking up great books, and pondering some of the bigger convention questions from San Diego to Boston, Baltimore, and beyond. At both SDCC and Readercon, I had a really nice time, and in fairness I came into physical contact by accident with an infinitely larger number of people in San Diego, but manners and niceness were the norm at both conventions. I had great chats and conversations from coast-to-coast that were engaging, and it was good fun… and as an American asked me with a twinkle in their eye and a hint of smile at the edge of their mouth, ‘was it good craic’.. yeah, yeah, it was indeed.

Free books at Readercon.

Free books at Readercon.

Two More Con Code of Conduct Complaints Go Public

Quite a few sf conventions have adopted an anti-harassment policy and some go to great lengths to make sure everyone knows what it is. DetCon1 even had Jim C. Hines read its Code of Conduct aloud at opening ceremonies.

It follows that as more fans become aware there are anti-harassment policies and structures in place, reports will be filed. Since for many cons the complaint window only opened within the past year-and-half, there’s limited practical experience for anyone to draw on. The available examples are daunting. Two conventions that took leadership of this issue were rocked to their core. The pivotal incident at the 2012 Readercon taught hard lessons about administering a policy and led to a far more thorough set of response procedures. Meanwhile, WisCon has found it necessary to apologize for mishandling two reports.

The stakes are high – personal and institutional reputations, social media scrutiny – and people want to know how real-life incidents are playing out under these new policies, something not easy to find out because of the privacy protection accorded those who file a complaint. For example, Arisia’s corporate policy is that “incident reports are not to be shared with other people or organizations other than the people in Arisia who take the reports or participate in the investigation.” Readercon’s safety procedures allow for the option of making a public statement regarding its actions, consistent with safeguarding the confidentiality of the report and its maker. These appropriate boundaries make it unlikely a convention committee’s internal deliberations will come to light unless the complainant goes public.

That’s why it’s such a surprise that Context — an Ohio convention just held at the end of September – has already processed a complaint and imposed a penalty on Jeffrey Tolliver, a con suite volunteer now banned from Context activities for five years. And that we know it.

Andi Brunett-Libecap’s conreport described their exchange in the con suite

We passed a room labeled “Con Suite” which sounded promising.

A guy carrying some chainmail noticed our sad little faces and asked if we were lost. Grateful, we admitted that we were looking for the con’s sign-in desk. He pointed us in the right direction.

And then shit got real.

He lifted his arms to better display his chainmail and we realized he was an artist looking to sell his wares.

I said, “That’s cool.”

And it really was pretty.

Worthless in battle, obviously made for a thin, scantily-clad woman, and clearly something for cosplay.

But very pretty nonetheless.

“I’d wear that,” I added.

That balding, pony-tailed dude didn’t miss a beat as he pointed at Rachel and said,

“Yeah, but it would look better on her.”

Ouch, man.

Just because it’s true didn’t mean you had to say it.

Rachel and I were both so flabbergasted at the man’s cluelessness that we just fumbled goodbyes and moved along down the hallway.

In one smooth move, he had insulted me and objectified Rachel.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

That was held to be a violation of Context’s Anti-harassment Policy which says:

Discussions of adult topics may arise at Context, and panels may include adult content. We ask that people be mindful while conversing in public areas; topics that are appropriate in private or with close friends may be inappropriate with strangers. Imposing unwanted discussion of a sexual nature on another person is harassment, and will not be tolerated.

And apparently it was not Tolliver’s only transgression. Context’s Programming Manager Steven Saus and Writing Workshop Coordinator Lucy Snyder said in comments on a follow-up post discussing the committee’s response to the incident that more than one complaint was received about the person’s conduct at the convention.

Tolliver added his own sentiments to the original post:

 I owe deep apologies to you, your friend and all the attendees of Context 27.

If stupidity was contagious I would have infected more people that the Plague.

On another front, an incident at Readercon this past July led Natalie Luhrs to file a formal complaint with the Readercon Safety Committee. She discussed and documented what happened in a post on Radish Reviews.

Here’s the summary: A party was held in my hotel room without my consent.

I know, I know. How does that even happen?

Well, how it happens is that you talk in public about having a small makeup party with a couple of friends–one of whom is sharing your hotel room–on Twitter and an acquaintance invites herself (screencap) and then gets really pushy about making it happen once the convention starts.

Then when it does happen, it turns out that you leave to spend time with another friend and when you come back a few hours later your room is empty but it’s obvious a whole bunch of people had been in there, because there are used glasses, food, and discarded clothing scattered about the room. More than could be generated by the three people who were in the room when I left and the only people I expected to be in the room while I was absent.

The name of the person who orchestrated the party and the surrounding circumstances are in her post.

Readercon’s Policies contain an open-ended invitation to report difficulties:

What sort of problem can I report?

Any behavior or pattern of behavior that violates our code of conduct. If you feel someone’s behavior is dangerous or harmful to you or others, if someone’s behavior makes you feel afraid or very uncomfortable, or if someone is actively making it difficult for you or others to enjoy or fully participate in the convention, we would like to know about it.

Whether an uninvited room party is a cause for action under any other convention’s policy I couldn’t say — in fact, Luhrs indicates it’s not a foregone conclusion that Readercon will find it to be one under theirs, although that is her expectation:

I feel very comfortable with the process so far and I expect and hope that the main outcome will be clarification that their code of conduct applies to room parties as well as to the convention itself.

2013 Shirley Jackson Awards

The winners of the 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards were announced July 13, 2014 at Readercon 25 in Burlington, Massachusetts:

NOVEL
American Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)

NOVELLA
Burning Girls, Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com)

NOVELETTE
Cry Murder! In a Small Voice, Greer Gilman (Small Beer Press)

SHORT FICTION
“57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” Sam J. Miller (Nightmare Magazine, December 2013)

SINGLE-AUTHOR COLLECTION (two winners)
Before and Afterlives, Christopher Barzak (Lethe Press)
North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press)

EDITED ANTHOLOGY
Grimscribe’s Puppets, edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (Miskatonic River Press)

Readercon Updates Policies

The next Readercon is a month away and its committee, striving to recover from last year’s seismic controversy, has issued a safety update: a revised Code of Conduct that will be in effect for Readercon 24, plus supporting policies and procedures.

Readercon’s Code of Conduct now addresses physical and social boundaries in a directive way with concrete examples.

The section on physical boundaries says in part:

 Do not physically harm or endanger other people.

Do not touch people or their personal effects—including clothing, assistive devices, bags, and on-duty service animals—without an express invitation. If you want to invite physical contact, do so verbally or with a friendly gesture, such as holding out a hand for a handshake.

And says about social boundaries:

In all cases where someone has told you or demonstrated that they do not wish to interact with you, do not contact them in any fashion, including through an intermediary, unless and until they approach you of their own initiative.

Readercon thrives on vigorous debate, but it is not acceptable to verbally attack people. Do not use slurs or make derogatory comments about a person, group, or category of people. This includes comments based on characteristics such as (but not limited to) actual or perceived race, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance, age, religion, ability, family or marital status, or socioeconomic class.

When interacting with other people, engage in active demonstrations of respect and empathy. For example: Obtain ongoing consent for your interaction. Respect the variety of ways in which people signal that continued contact is unwelcome. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal clues that the other party wishes to end the interaction; these clues can range from “Gosh, look at the time!” to the other person walking away from you. If you’re not certain the other person is enjoying your company, end the interaction yourself.

The Policies and Procedures describe fully the ways problems can be reported, what the committee’s immediate response will be, how it will assure members’ safety, what methods Readercon will follow while investigating problems, and the escalating range of responses.

The Policies contain an open-ended invitation to report difficulties:

What sort of problem can I report?

Any behavior or pattern of behavior that violates our code of conduct. If you feel someone’s behavior is dangerous or harmful to you or others, if someone’s behavior makes you feel afraid or very uncomfortable, or if someone is actively making it difficult for you or others to enjoy or fully participate in the convention, we would like to know about it.

Who can I make a report about?

Anyone whose behavior causes you concern. We will give all reports equal consideration. Our handling of reports will not be influenced by factors such as the social status or convention role of anyone involved in the situation.

The safety update is weighted toward reassuring members (and the community at large) who were upset about how the convention’s policies were enforced last year, however, the committee acknowledged the full spectrum of discussion by adding a statement about what happens to the accused —

If we believe that no violation occurred, you are welcome to go about the convention as usual. We will not attempt to mediate or carry messages between you and the person who made the report. If someone deliberately makes a false report about you, that is itself a code of conduct violation and we will take appropriate action in response.

The Procedures detail all the investigative steps that will be taken in response to reports and the crash-landings in store for those determined to have violated the Code of Conduct:

Sample actions and reactions

  • If someone has been physically or verbally assaulted and wants to call the police, we will assist them in doing so by involving hotel security and waiting with them until the police arrive.
  • If we determine to our satisfaction that someone has committed physical or verbal assault, we will revoke their membership and ban them from convention premises.
  • If we suspect but are not certain that someone has committed physical or verbal assault, we will ask hotel security to monitor the individual’s behavior closely and alert us if there is any cause for concern. We will also inform the individual that hotel security will be watching them, and remind them that they are required to abide by Readercon’s code of conduct if they wish to remain at the convention.
  • If we determine to our satisfaction that someone has misbehaved in a problematic but not egregious way, we will remind them that they are required to abide by Readercon’s code of conduct if they wish to remain at the convention.
  • If a person’s behavior is acceptable except when they are around a specific other person, and if their misbehavior is not sufficient to justify immediate eviction, we will ask them to keep their distance, as follows:
    • If the subject of the report is in convention space (including a program room, the bookshop, the hotel lobby, or an open-door party at the hotel) and they realize that the other person is in that space, the subject of the report must immediately leave the space.
    • The subject of the report may not initiate interaction of any kind (including calls, texts, emails, and passing messages through third parties) with the other person while at the convention.
  • If anyone about whom a report has been made declines to be interviewed, we will revoke their membership and ban them from convention premises.
  • If we believe that an individual poses an active threat (physical or otherwise) to one or more people at the convention, we will revoke their membership and ban them from convention premises.

The Readercon safety update is signed by Con Chair Crystal Huff, Safety Chair Kim Riek, and Program Chair Rose Fox.

Readercon Committee’s Latest Statement

Readercon has made series of decisions to stem the controversy over its handling of harassment complaints and to heal its community.

You could always click through and read their full statement. And really, isn’t that the best plan?

The Readercon convention committee apologized to Genevieve Valentine and Kate Kligman “for not taking appropriate action based on their reports of being harassed by René Walling.”

They also apologized for failing to apply Readercon’s lifetime ban policy:

The conversation about the value of zero-tolerance policies and lifetime bans is ongoing, but the issue of the moment is this: Readercon’s program participants, attendees, and volunteers came together with the understanding that a particular policy was in place, and that Readercon’s concom and board would not hesitate to implement it; and yet, when a complaint was made, we failed to address it appropriately and in accordance with our own rules.

Renè Walling’s membership ban has been made permanent. All five of the con’s board of directors, which made the original decision about a short-term ban, have resigned. Refunds of memberships in next year’s Readercon are available.

Readercon plans to update its anti-harassment policy “to better reflect the reality of how harassment happens at conventions,” and will make other changes to facilitate reports of harassment, including an updated code of conduct “to encourage behavior that contributes to a safe and comfortable atmosphere, and to clearly describe the types of behaviors that are not welcome at Readercon.”

[Thanks to Christopher Rowe and Dan Goodman for the story.]

Readercon Updates

The chair of Readercon 23, Crystal Huff, has responded to the controversy on her Livejournal:

I value safe spaces, and I am confident that this is a priority for Readercon people, as well. Many Readercon staffers are the same people who’ve been deeply involved supporters of the Backup Project. We recognize that the board’s decision with regard to Ms. Valentine’s complaint of harassment was made in haste, as was the original policy with regard to harassment at Readercon. In order to not compound errors further, we as the Readercon convention committee will be reexamining both with lots of thought and care.

She also reports, “Most of the current board members have resigned or announced their intention to resign.”

Readercon’s board of directors made the decision to ban Rene Walling for two years rather than following its announced policy of a permanent ban.

Readercon’s governing structure is a con committee of about 30 people which elects five of its members to be the board of directors. Traditionally, neither the con chair nor program chair are put on the board. Items requiring ratification by the board include GoH selection.

The Readercon harassment controversy also has been reported by Nonprofitquarterly in “Sci-fi Convention, Penn State Serve as Liability Reminders,” a post filled with sobering observations about real-world consequences:

However, if Readercon is an all-volunteer group (we haven’t located the organization on Guidestar), one wonders if the organization’s policy is a defense if one of the aggrieved con participants were to take some sort of legal action. Does Readercon have officers’ liability insurance to cover the organization against legal action? Would reference to the policy and the Readercon board’s creation of the policy in 2008 (in response to an earlier reported incident) and its actions against Walling after this year’s allegations help defend the organization against the debilitating cost of legal action?

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the link.]